US News unveils the year’s best cars for teens

Driving is a privilege that’s laden with responsibility, and its perils can make a newly licensed teen’s parents anxious — understandably.

“Inexperienced teen drivers are more at risk for an accident, and the car they drive can either contribute to or help mitigate that risk,” said Jamie Page Deaton, executive editor of U.S. News & World Report’s best car rankings.

U.S. News & World Report released its annual list of best new and used cars for teens on Tuesday, and they’re a reflection not only of crash protection, but also of state-of-the-art technology that can prevent collisions.

“These are features like forward-collision warning with automatic braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist — things that can help prevent an accident from happening in the first place and in some cases really cue teen drivers that they need to be paying attention, or it can help them develop the skills to maintain a clear position within their lane,” Page Deaton explained.

Other high-tech features included in many of these cars keep parents in the loop, providing them with alerts when their kid is speeding, if they’re out past curfew, or even if they’ve strayed outside a parent-defined geographic “fence.”

“It’s not just about spying on your kids … but saying, ‘Hey, what was going on?’ … So it really just allows parents to have that conversation,” she said.

And of course, the list of new models factors in critics’ recommendations and predicted reliability ratings.

U.S. News’ rankings of the best used cars for teens comprise models from the 2015 and 2016 years and factor in dependability and safety ratings, ownership costs and critics’ reviews, in addition to the high-tech features that were available back then.

The winning new cars and SUVs are broken down by price range. The winning used cars and SUVs are broken down by size. (See a full list of the winners below.)

2019 Accent
New car priced under $20,000: 2019 Hyundai Accent (Courtesy Hyundai)
volkswagen jetta
New car priced at $20,000–$25,000: 2019 Volkswagen Jetta (Courtesy Volkswagen)
2019 Honda HR-V Touring
New SUV priced at $20,000–$25,000: 2019 Honda HR-V (Courtesy Honda)
2019 Kia Forte
New car priced at $25,000–$30,000: 2019 Kia Forte (Courtesy Kia)
2020 Kia Soul
New SUV priced at $25,000–$30,000: 2020 Kia Soul (Courtesy Kia)
2019 Toyota Camry
New car priced at $30,000–$35,000: 2019 Toyota Camry (Courtesy Toyota)
2019 Hyundai Santa Fe
New SUV priced at $30,000–$35,000: 2019 Hyundai Santa Fe (Courtesy Hyundai/David Dewhurst)
2019 Toyota Camry SE Hybrid
New car priced at $35,000–$40,000: 2019 Toyota Camry Hybrid ( Courtesy Toyota)
2019 Toyota RAV4
New SUV priced at $35,000–$40,000: 2019 Toyota RAV4 (Courtesy Toyota)
Used large car: 2016 Buick LaCrosse (Courtesy Buick)
2016 Toyota Camry
Used midsize car: 2016 Toyota Camry (Courtesy Toyota)
Best Used SUV/Crossover for Teens:

The 2015 Chevrolet Traverse

(Courtesy General Motors)
Used midsize SUV: 2015 Chevrolet Traverse (Courtesy General Motors)
This undated photo provided by Edmunds shows the 2016 Toyota Prius, an example of a late-model vehicle that comes with advanced safety features. These features are useful but can lead to increased repair costs should the vehicle get damaged in an accident. (Scott Jacobs/Edmunds via AP)
Used small car: 2016 Toyota Prius. (AP/Scott Jacobs)
Hyundai Tucson
Used small SUV: 2016 Hyundai Tucson (AP)
(1/14)
2019 Accent
volkswagen jetta
2019 Honda HR-V Touring
2019 Kia Forte
2020 Kia Soul
2019 Toyota Camry
2019 Hyundai Santa Fe
2019 Toyota Camry SE Hybrid
2019 Toyota RAV4
2016 Toyota Camry
Best Used SUV/Crossover for Teens:

The 2015 Chevrolet Traverse

(Courtesy General Motors)
This undated photo provided by Edmunds shows the 2016 Toyota Prius, an example of a late-model vehicle that comes with advanced safety features. These features are useful but can lead to increased repair costs should the vehicle get damaged in an accident. (Scott Jacobs/Edmunds via AP)
Hyundai Tucson

Page Deaton singled out one of those best used car winners, the 2016 Buick LaCrosse, as a “very good car” that exemplifies the things that the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety recommends with teen drivers.

“You get them something big, boring and slow, so they can’t get into too much trouble,” she explained.

In other words, forget about that Mustang or Wrangler.

“… If your kid is excited about the car, it is probably the wrong car.”

WTOP’s Kristi King contributed to this report.

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